NEW YORK - Strong thunderstorms moved across the New York area on Wednesday afternoon into the evening.
The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for several counties in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. Earlier, the weather service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for all of New Jersey, all of New York City, parts of the Hudson Valley and central New York, and parts of Connecticut.
Notify NYC sent an alert on Wednesday afternoon urging New Yorkers to prepare for the possibility of severe weather.
"Strong winds can cause flying debris, turn unsecured objects into projectiles, and cause power outages," the Notify NYC alert said. "Exercise caution when walking, biking, or driving. Remain alert for threatening weather and possible warnings."
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued an Air Quality Health Advisory for New York City and the Lower Hudson Valley until 11 p.m. due to elevated levels of ground-level ozone, an air pollutant.
The state's Health Department recommends that you consider limiting strenuous outdoor physical activity to reduce the risk of health problems from the elevated pollution.
New York state agencies are preparing emergency response assets in case the storms produce damaging wind, large hail, cloud-to-ground lightning, and even tornadoes.
"Strong storms containing high winds, hail and lightning are likely across the state this afternoon and evening, and the National Weather Services reports that isolated tornadoes could spawn from these storms," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "State agencies are watching the weather closely and are ready to help local partners. New Yorkers should keep a very close eye on the weather today and be ready to take shelter quickly if necessary."
What Is a Severe Thunderstorm?
A "severe thunderstorm" is a storm that produces 1-inch hail or larger and/or wind speeds of 58 mph or faster.
"Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning," NWS states. "Lightning frequency is not a criteria for issuing a severe thunderstorm warning."
The NWS issues a Severe Thunderstorm Watch when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms.
"They are normally issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather," NWS states. "During the watch, people should review severe thunderstorm safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches."
The NWS issues a Severe Thunderstorm Warning when either radar indicates a severe thunderstorm or a spotter reports a severe thunderstorm (see definition above). Therefore, if you're in the affected area, you should seek safe shelter immediately.